Marvel Replaces Chris Evans, New Steve Rogers First Look Shared

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Chris Evans as Captain America

Credit: Marvel Studios

Led by Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) under The Walt Disney Company has recently experienced a substantial change in its roster of superheroes. The closure of the Infinity Saga and the apparent removal of Thanos (Josh Brolin) as a universal threat signified the end of Phase Three through Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019), thereby marking the exit of the initial Avengers lineup that was first introduced in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers (2012).

Marvel's Avengers including Thor, Black Widow, Captain Avenger, Hawkeye, Iron Man, and the Hulk, look up at the destruction of the city.
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: New ‘Captain America’ Set Photos Indicate ‘X-Men’ Entering the MCU

Indeed, Endgame left no room for ambiguity regarding the departure of two of Marvel’s most prominent heroes. Marvel Studios made it clear who wouldn’t be in future movies: Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man/Tony Stark, who sacrificed himself for the greater good, and Chris Evans’ Captain America/Steve Rogers, who retired after passing on his iconic Vibranium shield.

Chris Evan's Captain America talking to Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark
Credit: Marvel Studios

As Steve Rogers embraced his retirement, the task of selecting a new Captain America emerged. Ultimately, he chose his close friend Sam Wilson/Falcon, portrayed by Anthony Mackie, to carry on the legacy. Sam Wilson was handed the famous Vibranium shield by the aging hero, officially becoming the brand new Captain America for the MCU going into Phase Four, Phase Five and Phase Six — AKA the Multiverse Saga.

Needless to say, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is on a precipice — both in terms of the overarching story and in terms of maintaining its place in the cultural conversation.

Older Captain America talking to Sam Wilson about the Shield
Credit: Marvel Studios

The Captain America Legacy

Indeed, the most recent Marvel tease might confuse viewers and fans who caught Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021). The six episode Disney+ (Disney Plus) Original followed the exploits of Sam Wilson as the superhero Falcon, and World War II vet Bucky Barnes otherwise known as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan).

The two had to navigate the loss of their friend and the world’s American icon, as they formed tentative working relationships with Helmut Zemo AKA Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) in order to deal with looming terror threats and a worldwide pandemic. A new challenger to the Captain America title arose — an “evil Captain America” in the form of John Walker (Wyatt Russell), who eventually became the US Agent, working alongside Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter/Power Broker.

Related: What Is Marvel’s “Secret Wars”? MCU’s New Phase Five and Six Explained

Is Steve Rogers Returning to the MCU?

The answer, according to this new merch leak, is yes — though not in the way people might expect.

According to The Direct, photos of new Marvel Legends merchandise by Build-A-Figure bearing a different Steve Rogers’ visage have recently surfaced in relation to the upcoming season of the Disney+ Marvel television show, What If…? (2021), indicating a return of the Marvel character to the MCU.

The anthology explores alternate realities and divergent timelines within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Jeffrey Wright voicing the enigmatic character known as The Watcher, who oversees these alternate realities. The series features a variety of key cast members reprising their roles from the MCU, such as the late Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Star-Lord (of another universe), Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter/Captain Carter, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, and many others. In the show, Chris Evans is in fact replaced by actor Josh Keaton, despite most of the other main MCU actors returning for their roles, including the late Chadwick Boseman.

Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger, the Star-Spangled Man with a Plan scene
Credit: Marvel Studios

This doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers though. In What If…? alternate realities are the name of the Multiversal game. Each episode presents a different scenario in which key events unfold differently, resulting in unique and often unexpected outcomes. The show delves into how small changes can lead to significant shifts in character fates, relationships, and overarching storylines, offering a captivating glimpse into the infinite possibilities of the Marvel Multiverse. In fact, several key characters from What If…? have already made their way to the main MCU movies, like Hayley Atwell’s Captain Carter in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021).

Hayley Atwell as Captain Carter in 'Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness' (2022)
Credit: Marvel Studios

Unlike the main timeline where the experimented on Steve Rogers fully embraced the Captain America persona however, this iteration of a Super Soldier Serum-less Steve Rogers fights bad guys in a giant metal suit (not unlike Iron Man’s Hulkbuster one). Here this first look shows a Steve Rogers who appears to be wearing the upgraded Hydra Stomper suit teased in Season One of What If…?, where with this new suit (and Steve) were seemingly cryogenically preserved.

The Direct expands on the Marvel Legends figure, indicating that it is part of a bigger set-piece:

This Marvel Legends offering is actually a Build-A-Figure, meaning nearly every character in the wave comes packed with a part, be it an arm or a torso, that can be used to assemble the complete Hydra Stomper figure.

Build-A-Figure's Marvel Legends Hydra Stomper Steve Rogers
Credit: Build-A-Figure, Marvel Studios

Of course, Marvel do not want audiences forgetting Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers — even if it isn’t the exact same Captain America Variant people are used to in the main MCU universe.

With Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers in the main MCU universe presumably gone off the grid post-Endgame, Evans himself is not totally against returning to the role. Therefore, it’s likely that we’ll be seeing more of Evans’ version of Steve Rogers in Avengers: Secret Wars, the upcoming Avengers 6 film to follow Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.

Steve Rogers talking to Sam Wilson in Avengers: Endgame
Credit: Marvel Studios

For now, fans have Anthony Mackie’s version of Cap to look forward to, in the upcoming Captain America 5. Previously titled Captain America: New World Order, the fourth Captain America movie, Captain America: Brand New World will follow Sam Wilson as the first official Black Captain America in the MCU. He will likely deal with the theorized Vibranium-centric international disputes introduced in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022), and even the Eternals’ (2021) “Tiamut Island”.

Don Cheadle (War Machine/James Rhodes AKA Rhodey), Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, Emily VanCamp as the Power Broker/Sharon Carter, and Wyatt Russell as US Agent/John Walker will return. Meanwhile, Harrison Ford is also set to star as Thaddeus Ross/Thunderbolt Ross, likely as the villain Red Hulk, replacing the late William Hurt who originated the role in earlier movies.

Seeing as all of this will lead directly into the new Avengers films, it seems like a reunion of Captain Americas is likely to occur come Secret Wars.

Do you think Chris Evans will fully return to the Captain America role? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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